Tae-san doesn't really get much chance to enjoy the important plot points he discovered last episode before the full weight of these revelations sinks in. While it may have been unintentional, Tae-san's best friend in the world was murdered solely because the bad guys assumed he was a co-conspirator in Tae-san's scheme (which didn't actually exist). Remembering the last scenes where we saw these two together is just another reminder of the miserable life our lead character has been leading. Tae-San can make amends, but he can't undo the past and he knows it.
While I get all this character development and can appreciate it, Tae-san's guilt complex does hobble the narrative a bit, since he knows the likely location of the evidence that's the source of all his problems, but is extremely hesitant to move to acquire it since this might well end up in more collateral damage. From a character and narrative perspective it makes sense, but by design it keeps the story from getting that exciting. At least until he can come up with a better plan.
Most of the slack ends up coming in the form of flashbacks, which are intriguing this time around because while ostensibly they're about Tae-san and his destructive influence on the people who get close to him, in actuality they say a lot more about In-hye. We see that in her past, In-hye was a very determined person absolutely willing to ignore other people's advice to get what she wants in the specific way she wants it. Normally these character traits are played positively, but there's definite ambiguity here about whether these decisions were proper ones and how much of her involvement in the storyline (compared to poor Man-seok) was deliberately provoked.
Interestingly, this still doesn't let Tae-san off the hook for any of his failures. It's explicitly spelled out that he should have known better and acted accordingly, even if In-hye didn't want to. I really like the way this drama defines proper masculinity. It's not the deadbeat "free" life that Tae-san was living at the beginning. Rather, being a man means stepping up and doing the right thing, and not trying to abdicate personal responsibility by blaming other people, however easy it may be to rationalize it.
This has intriguing implications for Seung-woo, too. If he's completely unwilling to accept mistakes and failures from others, then he's certainly not going to pussyfoot around these matters himself. It looks like the next episode will deal with these themes more forcefully, which I appreciate. This episode was all right, with solid action setpieces and story development, but it lacked a certain element of dazzle that only a determined, newly motivated character can really provide.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Two Weeks" Episode 9"
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